1 February 2009

Black Taj Mahal

The legend has it, that Shah Jehan decided to construct another Taj Mahal in black marble
on the other side of the river Yamuna and to connect the two by a bridge. This structure was
intended to be his own tomb. It has been recorded by Tavernier : "Shah Jehan began to build his own tomb on
the other side of the river but the war with his sons interrupted
his plan and Aurangzeb who reigns at present is not disposed to complete it". Later gazetteers and
guide books mention this story almost invariably. The irregular position of the cenotaph of Shah
Jehan as compared to that of Mumtaz Mahal which occupies the exact centre of the hall is enough proof into itself..
The Mehtab Burj and the wall adjoining it opposite the Taj Mahal are
generally said to be the grim remains of the proposed plan.

Many scholars, however, believe that this idea belongs to fiction rather than history. The traces
which are identified as the foundations of the second Taj are actually the enclosing wall of a garden
founded by Baber. The irregular position of Shah Jehan's cenotaph in comparison to Mumtaz
Mahal's, is similar to that at the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, and thus should not be of any striking
significance. Besides, according to Islamic law, bodies are buried with their faces towards Mecca
and legs towards the south, and the husband is placed on the right hand side of his wife. The
interpretation that the cenotaph of Shah Jehan was not meant to be placed here appears to be
Till today it is not known who really designed Taj, but as the rumours say it may
have been designed by an Italian Architect.

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